Deep isolation, a bigger look into the Van Nuys songbird

Raine Torre’s ode to boredom in quarantine.

Singer-songwriter+Raine+Torres+wrote+her+song+%22Cold+Coffee%22+in+30+minutes.

CREDIT: Photo | Rain Torres

Singer-songwriter Raine Torres wrote her song “Cold Coffee” in 30 minutes.

By Kasey Kim, A&E Editor

Quarantine may have been an idle time for many, but it was anything but that for singer-songwriter Raine Torres who wrote and produced her new single “Cold Coffee.”

Released on Sept. 12, “Cold Coffee” falls under the soft pop genre. 

As a part of the GRAMMY Museum’s Summer Session program for high school songwriters, Torres was assigned to write a song inspired by the title “Cold Coffee” in 30 minutes.

Different from her usual relaxed approach to songwriting, she struggled with it at first, but soon she stumbled upon the words that made up her verses, pre-chorus, and chorus.

She began by imagining cold coffee sitting on the counter as a result of a student being reluctant in doing the work they need to complete. 

Like many other high school students, Torres is not a stranger to procrastination. 

She used this procrastination which resulted in a mixture of happiness and guilt to write her song.

“I saw coffee as this symbol of forcing yourself awake, forcing yourself to be productive,” she said. “I saw cold coffee as this drive, simmering. I think that, as you grow up, you’re expected to always be working, to constantly strive for success, but I wanted to say that it’s okay to be a little lazy and just chill out sometimes.”

Torres began writing the song like she would any other: she sat down and wrote phrases that encapsulated her inspiration.

“Sometimes a song comes out right away, but usually it stays as a phrase or a couple of stanzas before I finish it,” she remarks. 

After understanding the direction of her lyrics, she found the chords and melodies that best expressed those lyrics.

“I’m honestly just saying I’m getting tired of waking. I think I’m going to stay in today, let my coffee cup go cold. I don’t know what to say, maybe I’m too old for this.”

With her lyrics in hand, she worked with her friend in producing the song. Meeting almost 10 times in five- to eight-hour sessions within the span of 4 weeks, Torres and her friend played around with the vocals and arrangement until they were satisfied with the single. 

“I almost didn’t release it because it felt like it was never going to feel right, but eventually we got to a point where we were happy with how it sounded.”

However, Torres’ musical journey began long before the task of fewer hours of social distancing.

Growing up in a musical family, Torres began singing and playing instruments at a young age. Her musical interest sparked when she picked up the trumpet.

Her overall interest in music eventually led her to write songs. 

I used to write silly little songs when I was little with my sister, but I actually started writing songs more seriously after a unit on poetry in 8th grade,” Torres said. “I wrote a lot of sonnets and villanelles which I set to music just for fun.”

Inspired by her everyday surroundings and occurrences, Torres uses music as a place to relay her emotions, problems, thoughts, and feelings. Her lyrics and songs become valuable timestamps in her life, capturing specific moments and feelings forever. 

Along with singing and writing music, Torres also began producing music to personally mold her lyrics into songs. 

“I like having my hand on all aspects of my music as of now, but I’m trying to widen my horizons when it comes to working with other people.”

Currently working on an EP (extended play), she hopes to have a full-length album by the time she graduates high school. 

Torres’ songs are available on her Instagram @singing_intheraine, TikTok @raynetorrez, and Spotify and Apple Music under Raine. There are also unofficial releases on her YouTube channel Raine T. 

“It’s crazy that people actually listen to the music I make in my room and I’m so grateful to everyone who has.”

THE UNCUT INTERVIEW Q&A

What inspires you to write songs?
I’m inspired by things going on in my life, emotions that I want to understand better, things I’m scared about or interested in, a feeling or mood that I’m in, or even just random words and phrases that pop into my head. I also find a lot of inspiration in nature and everyday items because they have such a quiet charm to them.

When and how did you start singing? Writing music?
I grew up in a musical family so I’ve been singing all my life but I always considered myself more of an instrumentalist until I started writing songs. I started playing piano when I was three but I suck at it. I really got into music through playing trumpet, which I still do now. I used to write silly little songs when I was little with my sister but I actually started writing songs more seriously after a unit on poetry in 8th grade. I wrote a lot of sonnets and villanelles which I set to music just for fun. Eventually, I started writing lyrics with songs in mind.

Why do you write music?
I write music because it’s a place where I can relay my problems, thoughts, and feelings in a way that’s fun and makes something out of them. When I write a song, the moment and feeling that I wrote the song in is captured forever and I like being able to go back to that song and revisit where I was then. It’s really calming to me and it lets me be creative with even the most mundane or painful parts of my life.

Why did you decide to start producing music?
I started producing music just out of necessity because I didn’t want to pay a stranger to work on music that was so personal to me. I like having my hand on all aspects of my music as of now but I’m trying to widen my horizons when it comes to working with other people.

Who are your role models/ favorite musicians that inspire you?
My favorite musician right now is Moses Sumney and I am very much inspired by him. I’m definitely also inspired by Billie Marten and Stevie Wonder. I think I’m also subjectively inspired by whatever I’m listening to. Right now, I’m listening to a lot of neo-soul or r&b inspired music like Nick Hakim as well as a lot of genre-bending artists like Phony PPL. My mom and my grandpa are amazing singers and songwriters as well so I am constantly inspired by them.

What inspired you to write Cold Coffee?
Over the summer, I got to be a part of a program called Summer Session from the Grammy Museum. The first exercise we did was to write a song in like 30 minutes from the title of “Cold Coffee”. I really struggled with it for a bit but then a verse, pre-chorus, and chorus kinda just stumbled out from that title which was crazy to me because I had never written a song from that approach before. I was inspired by my experience as a high school student who has frequently procrastinated.

What is Cold Coffee about?
Cold Coffee is about taking days off, kind of an ode to the laziness of sorts or an anti-motivational song. When they gave me the title of cold coffee, I saw coffee as this symbol of forcing yourself awake, forcing yourself to be productive and I saw cold coffee as this drive simmering. I started with this idea of a coffee cup sitting on the counter because the person decided that they weren’t willing to take that step to make themselves do what they didn’t want to do. From there, it became a song about taking a day off and all the emotions that go with it, like happiness and guilt. I think that, as you grow up, you’re expected to always be working, to constantly strive for success, but I wanted to say that it’s okay to be a little lazy and just chill out sometimes.

What genre does your music fall under?
I always struggle with this because I think it would be considered pop but I like to think my music sounds underproduced, like lo-fi music, even though I know it’s not Lofi. I would say it falls under “soft pop” because I have a pretty soft voice and instrumentation.

Did you produce it alone?
I always produce my music alone but for Cold Coffee, I worked with my friend, who’s an amazing musician, named Noah Bentley to mix it and mess around with the production a bit.

What is the process of writing and recording songs?
It really depends on the person but for me, I almost always start with lyrics first. I’ll either be in a songwriting mood and just sit down and start writing or I’ll be living my life and something happens or I see something that inspires me and I’ll jot down a phrase or two that encapsulates it. Sometimes a song comes out right away but usually, it stays as a phrase or a couple of stanzas before I finish it. Then I try to get an understanding of what the lyrics feel like and find chords and melodies that match that feeling.

Approximately how long does it take to produce one song?
This song actually took FOREVER to mix and produce. Noah and I met almost 10 times within 4 weeks for 5 to 8-hour sessions to mix it because it didn’t feel right. I almost didn’t release it because it felt like it was never going to feel right but eventually we got to a point where we were happy with how it sounded.

Are there other songs you have released?
Yes! I’ve formally released one other song called P.C.H which is also on all listening platforms. It’s in English and Japanese. I also have a lot of informal releases on my youtube channel.

Do you have future plans for your music career?
I’m working on an ep right now but my main goal is to have a full-length album by the time I graduate high school. I’m going to try to collaborate with my friends and other musicians a lot more because I’m really fortunate to know so many talented people.

Where can we find your songs (what platforms)?
You can find my songs on any listening platforms (Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, iTunes, Napster, etc) if you just search the name of the song or my artist name which is just “Raine”. I also have a lot of unreleased songs on my youtube channel which is under Raine T. On Spotify, I also put recipes with each release so you could check that out too.

Any last words?
I want to say thank you to everyone who’s been listening to my music and supporting it. I’m so appreciative that you guys would take time out of your day to stream or repost my music. It’s crazy that people actually listen to the music I make in my room and I’m so grateful to everyone who has.